How Shall We Vote (1920)

How Shall We Vote (1920)

The present campaign places the Negro voter,—and indeed all American voters—in a difficult position. Four parties ask our votes.

The Republican party has for 25 years joined the white South in disfranchising us; it has permitted us to be “Jim-Crowed,” deprived of schools and segregated. It has partially disfranchised us in its party councils and proposes practically to eliminate us as soon as this campaign is over. It has encouraged and recognized the “Lily-White” factions and nearly driven us from public office. In addition to this the Republicans represent reaction and privilege, the abolition of freedom of speech, the punishment of thinkers, the suppression of the labor movement, the encouragement and protection of trusts, and a new protective tariff to tax the poor for the benefit of the rich.

The Democratic party stands for exactly the same things as the Republicans. Between their professed and their actual policies there is no difference worth noting. To be sure, the northern wing of the party has tendencies toward some recognition of the laborers’ demands and the needs of a stricken war-cursed world, but this is more than neutralized by the Solid South.

The Solid South means lynching, oligarchy, mob-rule, disfranchisement, systematic ignorance and rotten-borough voting. Against this body of death the highest ideals of Woodrow Wilson at his best availed absolutely nothing, and there is not today the shadow of a hope that Governor Cox of Ohio would be able to champion any policy as president that proposes to disturb the rule in the South of the conscienceless exploiter of black and white labor.

This is the position of the two chief parties, one of which is bound to win.

There are two other parties, the Farmer-Labor and the Socialist. Both these parties speak out bravely in our behalf. Neither of them can win and because of our defenseless position the triumph of one of the greater parties without our aid might be the signal for further aggressions upon our rights as citizens. Our one clear path is this: Whatever vote we cast for president, let our vote for Congressmen be clear and decisive: vote for friends of our race and defeat our enemies.

Citation: Du Bois, W.E.B. 1920. “How Shall We Vote.” The Crisis. 20(5):235–236.